Do you have a playground?
It’s a question we often get asked, understandably, when you are holiday with small people a playground is often at the top of the ‘must have’ list.
Likewise on booking websites there is always a tick list of options for the ‘facilities’ and one such option is ‘playground’.
I never tick the playground option.
We have a wooden swing and a tyre swing hanging from an old oak tree and a little triangle bird hide, but I wouldn’t bill it as a playground as such.
However, I have been mulling this over of late, and we do have a playground. We have 11 acres of land to explore, hills to run up and slide down, gorse to hide in, trees to climb, a pond to dip, a quarry to excavate, and buckets of room to roam.
But, more than all of that, at the bottom of the glamping field, just over the edge, we have a wild flower meadow, on the near edge of the meadow there is a rill.
No one calls it a rill anymore, it has been lovingly renamed by all the kids who have stayed on site.
The bog is the gateway to our wild meadow. It is a true natural playground, cut out from the land at least 100 years ago as a shortcut to divert the nearby river to the local mill. It is 10ft wide, about 1ft deep, although I suspect it was much deeper in years gone by, and it’s 150ft long. The bank that was created when the rill was dug has ancient oaks and beech trees lining it, covered in mosses and lichens.
This bank, or ridge, at the back of the rill, is the only truly dry route along the meadow field and stands proud of the rest of the land. The sheer width of the trees that line it make sticking to the bank a test of determination, dexterity, concentration and balance.
Although the rill is no longer in use the ground within it remains damp in places, wet in others and downright boggy at points. Kris-crossing the 10ft channel are oak and beech trees that fell long ago and have become moss covered bridges. Newer cuttings of branches adorn the ground surrounding the rill and the wild meadow beyond.
Many a day has been lost exploring ‘the bog’. Hunting for frogs and interesting rocks, engineering new and complex structures, creating obstacle courses and making potions. Fairy dens are made, campfires are built, bridges are constructed, rigorously tested and redesigned. Friendships are forged, and dreams are realised.
Sometimes wild pansies and hawthorn blossom adorn the hair of the brave who venture there. Often treasures are rescued and are proudly presented to the mere mortals who have stayed behind. Baskets brimming with mosses are used to create shops and cafes on the mainland and special stones and leaves are sold at extortionate prices to the simple folk who dare not venture beyond the safety of the edge of the field.
The tales of the days adventures are gleefully recounted around the campfire and plans for new adventures and bigger challenges are made.
So no, we don’t have a playground on site, we have something much, much better and there isn’t a tick box for that.
#rewildyourchild #nature #explore #adventure #playground